This post is part of a 40-day journey following Jesus in his prayer life. We’ll explore virtually every reference in the Gospels to Jesus and prayer. For a more in-depth treatment, see my book Prayers from the Pit.
For me, prayer is a path to a pair of items: resources and relationship. I pray to gain divine resources which I cannot gain any other way. And I pray to procure a divine relationship which I cannot procure any other way. Prayer secures resources from God and strengthens my relationship with God as no other practice can.
Yet on both counts, it seems that Jesus has no need for prayer.
For example, Jesus has the power to create resources on his own. He fashions food—multiplying fish and loaves. He creates cures—healing blindness and leprosy. He constructs entire climates—stilling a storm. Why would someone with such power even need to pray?
In addition, Jesus possesses a relationship with God that is unrivaled. Jesus enjoys unparalleled familiarity with the Father. The two are so close that they are one and the same.
In spite of this, Jesus prays. At more than thirty places in the Gospels Jesus petitions. From his baptism in Luke 3 to his ascension in Luke 24, Jesus supplicates. Luke explains that “[Jesus] would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (Lk. 5:16). This is the language of repetitive action. Jesus, it appears, was always retiring to private places for prayer.
Jesus prays at the feeding of the 5,000 (Mk. 6:41) and after the feeding of the 5,000 (Mk. 6:46). He prays for the forgotten (children) (Mk. 10:15-16), his fellow workers (John 17), his global family (Jn. 17), and his foes (Lk. 23:34). He prays when healing (Mk. 7:32-34) and when hurting (Matt. 27:46).
Why? There were resources needed that Jesus could gain in no other way but through prayer. There was a level of relationship with the Father that could be experienced in no other way but through prayer. Prayer enabled Jesus to secure resources from God and strengthen his relationship with God as no other practice could.
The fact that Jesus prays so steadfastly is striking. If someone with such authority from the Father needed prayer, how much more do I? If someone with such affection with the Father needed prayer, how much more do I?
Contemplate your own life. What resources can you gain in no other way but prayer? What aspect of your relationship with the Father is wholly dependent upon prayer? Take time today and pray about both of these issues.